Top Thirty 7″ Records of 2011 (part 2)

As promised, this is Part 2 of our 7″ Countdown for 2011. Just in case you missed it, you can check out Part 1 of the Countdown right here. That’s it for the week, so Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all! More Countdown lists to come next week!

(As you know, we’ve covered a ton of music this year – to be a bit more exact, we’ve covered over 150 unique 7″ singles through 2011. Now comes the hard part – the part where we sit down and file through them all and decide which of them stood out the most. Not only does this show you what we prefer here at the Styrofoam Drone, but it can also help show trends throughout the year. On top of that, it’s the best way to reacquaint yourself with the material from the beginning of the year, because admittedly, by now, those earlier gems have faded away with each new passing single that comes and goes. Please enjoy the second half of our 7″ Countdown for 2011.)


Ketamines – Line By Line 7″
Label: Hozac Records
It proves difficult to not fall in love with the perky spirit of “Line by Line.” There’s something about this bubble-gum psych-pop that’s right on the money with it’s optimistic vibes. Then flip the 7″ and suddenly you’re caught off guard – how did they go from sun-shine pop to these cavernous and dreary jammers? The dichotomy in their sound is excellent, showing off plenty of influences ranging in an eight-minute, three-track span. If you missed this during the year, you’re still wasting precious time.

Grass Widow – Milo Minute 7″
Label: HLR Records
Granted only one of these songs are original tracks from Grass Widow, but that’s the beauty of this 7″. This one-of-a-kind band took it upon themselves to cover virtually unknown songs from a band like Neo Boys, to which the results are positively stunning. We’ve said it before and now we’re going to say it again, but no other band seems to be experimenting in the same fashion as Grass Widow. Add them to your radar now and you’re sure to never be let down in the future. Let’s hope for more from these girls in 2012.

OBN III’s – Mark On You 7″
Label: Tic Tac Totally
OBN III’s had a marvelous year and this single was only the beginning of the head-banging madness. Tracks like “Mark On You” and “Heavy Heart” would eventually sound like the framework for songs on “The One and Only” LP, which simply means there’s no way to forget these tracks. Blood-boiling, angry and disgusted are just a few words you can use to describe the youthful and catastrophic punk spirit that so consistently dominates these OBN III’s records.

Nick Waterhouse – Is That Clear 7″
Label: Innovative Leisure
Nick Waterhouse is involved in a revival of sorts that involves the timeless rhythm and blues sound. Lucky for us, he nailed every thing about it. “Is That Clear” is about as invigorating and challenging as a song could get, to the point where we’re already chomping at the bit for more. Keep an eye on Waterhouse for 2012, because if it’s anything like this it will be big.

Purity Ring/ Braids – Split 7″
Label: Fat Possum Records
Purity Ring have been turning heads ever since their first song appeared on the blogosphere – “Belispeak” is no exception. Braids on the other hand have slowly but surely been clawing their way to the top of the pedestal. “Peach Wedding” will prove that with it’s glistening complexion and after listening you will have no trouble endorsing what they do. Either way, uniting these two on a 7″ single was a dynamite idea. This brings us to say, what could possibly be next in store for these two Canadian acts? Only time will tell.

Plateaus – Beach Coma 7″
Label: Art Fag Recordings
Plateaus dropped their first 7″ on Art Fag Recordings this year and it appears their second is already in sight. They’re on the “coming soon” list for 7″ singles at Hozac Records, which warms our little hearts. With picture-perfect pop gems like “Beach Coma,” it’s no surprise these guys aren’t done – they have certainly earned whatever comes next. It’s almost a guarantee that we’ll have more of their snotty beach-punk come 2012.

The Dirty Nil – Fuckin’ Up Young 7″
Label: Wolfshirt Records
This past summer there had to be at least a few stereos out there blaring these righteous jams. This Canadian trio set their sights on the gold and achieved it immensely with their debut 7″. Excellent quality sets it apart from the rest of the crumbly lo-fi filth out there, which really help this monstrous single stand out. At this point it’s hard to say what will come next, but we can only hope it’s already in the works.

Wax Idols – All Too Human 7″
Label: Hozac Records
Hether Fortune can thank nobody but Hether Fortune for the level of quality that all of her releases on the year sustained. “All Too Human” was only the beginning, but it set her up perfectly for an even brighter future. “All Too Human” didn’t entirely reveal what Fortune could be experimenting with on upcoming projects, so once “No Future” dropped it was like taking excellence to a whole new level while smacking us all upside the head. Much like her full-length, she covered most (if not all) of the instruments herself on this single.

Cosmonauts – He Never Hit Me 7″
Label: Goodbye Boozy Records
Much like the description floating around promises, this single is literally a psychedelic garage-rock explosion. This is mainly due to the inclusion of their flawless cover of “Little Honda” which blows this record apart at the seams. Combine that with the stomping “He Never Hit Me” and this single will leave you in tiny, bite-size pieces.

Cold Showers – Highlands 7″
Label: Mexican Summer
Sparing a few, there’s not many other debuts from this year that were as stunning as the 7″ from Cold Showers. Songs like “Near Burn” show off their frantic energy between the hazy blasts of guitar heat, filled out by exploratory landscapes of glowing ambiance as they press on. Considering we’ve been limited to just these two songs, hopefully we’ll have something more sooner than later.

The Limiñanas – AF3458 7″
Label: SDZ Records
Beginning with a folksy guitar twang, shortly afterward this single takes flight. The Limiñanas offered up two brand new songs here and it’s without a doubt their best two-song-tandem to date. Between the static crunch of relentless guitars, perpetually jangly rhythms and primal conga drumming, these charming French rockers gave us something to adore time and time again. Hozac Records appears to be releasing their next full length as well, so sit tight!

Sharp Ends – Broadview Pressure Test 7″
Label: Mammoth Cave Recording Co.
Unfortunately Sharp Ends are no longer with us, but their debut 7″ lives on a bit longer thanks to this repress on Mammoth Cave. In all of our time covering singles, there might not be as 7″ record that fits the mold of consistency more than this. Four songs of absolute face-beating post-punk terrorize you and your defenseless ears for nearly fourteen minutes, breaking open a hole in the Earth’s crust before attempting to put it back together again with the broken pieces – to which the end result is a big angry “fuck it.” These guys lure you in with the raw energy of a track like “Vacant City,” only to have it explode back in your face as they spiral out into metallic oblivion.

Purity Ring – Ungirthed 7″
Label: Transparent Records
Purity Ring is another shining example of a band who couldn’t have benefited better from their debut 7″. With that in mind, they’ve certainly earned every little bit of the praise they’ve gotten from it. Since then the electronic duo has only grown in the spotlight, but there’s still literally only three tracks out there to show for it. Each one is a glowing example, displaying flawless production quality, sweeping, malfunctioning electronics and Megan James gorgeously spectral voice. Looking forward into 2012, it’s hard to not think Purity Ring will be at the top of the ladder.

Lower Dens – Batman 7″
Label: Gnomonsong Recordings
Considering it came out last January, it would be a shame if we forgot to include this record. But how on Earth is that possible with such a picture-perfect single? Jana Hunter and the gang laid down solid gold in these two songs, to the point where that crystal-clear guitar shrill of “Batman” will never lose it’s edge. On the flip side the steady rocking “Dear Betty Baby” evokes a totally different feeling with it’s longing vibes, culminating into a single of epic proportions that is to be taken with complete sincerity. Perfection is a word you don’t want to throw around too often, but that’s the only option “Batman” gives us.

Trust – Candy Walls 7″
Label: Sacred Bones Records
In 2011, Canadian duo Trust took electronic music to a different level. Through their use of dark and twisted landscapes, Robert Alfons and Maya Postepski seem to be advancing down a haunting path that not many have attempted to tread in the past – and if so have failed miserably. In their creations, a descriptor like “grave-wave” has come to the forefront, showing off these sexy yet troubling undertones that keep you aching for more. “Speed, space and tears” appears to be their own depiction of their sound, which is right on the money as well. Specifically their 12″ single “Bulbform” might speak to that a little better, but still the deliciously demonic and syrupy “Candy Walls” puts Trust in a murky spot that no other band finds themselves in. There is going to be a full length sometime down the road, we just have to wait patiently for it!


Boom! Done. Thanks to all of the bands, people and record labels involved in another year of memorable 7″ releases! Starting next week, you can expect other Countdown lists including full length albums and EPs. Just in case you missed the first half of our 7″ Countdown for 2011, you can view that right here! Enjoy the weekend and Happy Holidays to all!

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